At Aretha Franklin‘s funeral on Friday, music star Ariana Grande performed the Queen of Soul’s classic “Natural Woman” and after her performance, officiating minister Bishop Charles H. Ellis III brought her to the podium and while speaking, touched her inappropriately.
Bishop Ellis also made a joke about Ariana Grande’s name sounding like a Taco Bell menu item. The preacher was called out on social media for “groping” the singer.
Ellis, in an interview with The Associated Press at Franklin’s cemetery on Friday, apologised.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her. Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologise.
I hug all the female artists and the male artists. Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.
The last thing I want to do is to be a distraction to this day. This is all about Aretha Franklin,” he said.
Ellis added: “I personally and sincerely apologise to Ariana and to her fans and to the whole Hispanic community. When you’re doing a program for nine hours you try to keep it lively, you try to insert some jokes here and there.”
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